The Saturday editions of all national papers reported that a subcommittee of the GOJ coronavirus taskforce made up of epidemiologists and public health professionals presented a set of recommendations on Friday in preparation for a “second wave” of COVID-19. The team underscored the importance of launching a contact tracing app, expanding antigen testing to quickly detect and isolate virus carriers, training more lab technicians to increase PCR diagnostic testing, and boosting healthcare capacity. The group called for swiftly procuring personal protective equipment and reserving hospital beds for COVID-19 patients even during a lapse in widespread infections. They also stressed the need for measures to head off cluster infections at hospitals, nursing homes, and other elderly care facilities.
In a related story, Nikkei wrote that three major private lab operators plan to triple their PCR testing capacity from April levels to 10,000 per day by the summer by opening testing facilities in smaller cities outside of Tokyo and two other metropolitan areas. According to the daily, the nation’s overall testing capacity as of May 25 was about 24, 600 per day. Several chemical firms are rapidly developing technology to use saliva samples for PCR testing, while others are increasing their production of reagents and other testing supplies.
Meanwhile, Yomiuri and Mainichi wrote on Saturday that the Health Ministry decided to administer PCR tests to everyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms. The new policy was adopted in accordance with the finding that many carriers have spread the virus even before developing symptoms.